Bushmaster and Other Gun Manufacturers’ Militarized Marketing Exposed in New Slide Show from Violence Policy Center

For Release: Monday, May 16, 2022

Washington, DC —The Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released a new slide show of firearms industry ads and catalog images exposing the common themes that gunmakers use in their marketing of militarized weapons such as the Bushmaster XM-15 assault rifle used in the mass shooting this past weekend at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

In the introduction to the three-part slide show, the VPC explains, “Militarization dominates the public face of today’s gun industry, whether in magazine ads, manufacturer catalogs and websites, or the content of firearm magazines that cater to gun owners. In these outlets, three themes are consistently found” ꟷ

  • Language and images that equate military-bred weaponry as the virtual embodiment of freedom. In this context, gun owners are often portrayed as brave men (and it is almost always men) standing alone, a front-line force against oppression, often from the government. Some companies harken back to the era of the Founding Fathers, encouraging these gun buyers to view themselves as modern-day patriots.
  • The use of terms and images drawn from military or law enforcement extolling the virtues of the potential gun buyer, including hero. These descriptions are supplemented by words such as “bravery,” “honor,” and similar terms to describe an undefined “mission.” The accompanying images most often feature users outfitted in military-style gear.
  • Language and images touting that the guns being sold are identical, or virtually identical, to the weapons carried and used by law enforcement or the military. Many manufacturers highlight the military and/or law enforcement pedigree of their firearms. Often, the only difference is that the weapons sold to civilians are semiautomatic, firing one bullet per trigger pull, as opposed to being able to fire in burst or fully automatic mode.

VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann states, “Most Americans would be shocked at what the gun industry has become. In their marketing of militarized weaponry, gunmakers cater to the fantasies of their buyers, no matter how dark. These weapons of war are sold with no concern for the potential real-world consequences, such as mass shootings, where these military-bred guns are used for the exact purpose for which they were designed.”

VPC Resources

For the landing page for the three-part slide show of firearms industry ads and catalog images illustrating the militarized marketing of assault weapons and high-capacity pistols by gunmakers, please see https://vpc.org/slideshows-examples-of-how-the-gun-industry-markets-its-militarized-weapons-to-civilian-gun-buyers/. All slideshows may be easily shared or embedded using the buttons at the bottom of each slideshow.

For background information on Bushmaster’s militarized marketing, please see http://vpc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Bushmaster2018.pdf.

For a listing of examples of mass shootings in the United States since 1980 involving large-capacity ammunition magazines, please see https://vpc.org/fact_sht/VPCshootinglist.pdf.


The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on Twitter and Facebook.

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